by Patrick Ehlers
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
The first time I heard Rage Against the Machine, it was on a tape my friend Leann popped into the stereo of my 1989 Toyota Tercel. She played “Killing In The Name” and I just straight up didn’t understand what I was hearing. The song is so angry, wearing resentment and outrage as an outfit instead of as an accessory. There’s very little nuance or subtlety to the refrain “fuck you, I don’t do what you tell me,” and at 16 I thought the song was emotionally immature. Twenty years later, I may still agree with that evaluation, but I also recognize the importance of expressing a single emotion so clearly, so singularly, and so powerfully all at once. Diablo House 1 is very much like “Killing In The Name,” a story singularly focused on expressing the evils of greed and ambition.
The story relays nearly the entire life of RC and his wife Angie. RC’s stuck working a dead-end job at Fitzy’s Fast Fresh Fish Tacos until Angie badgers him in to taking on a bigger role in the company. Angie aids RC in this corporate-take-over by signing some manner of infernal contract at the Diablo House, granting RC unnatural success in business. Of course, RC’s newfound business savvy comes at a price… but it’s never totally clear what that price is. Writer Ted Adams has a perfectly functional story about greed and ego motivating a man amassing wealth and power until he’s alienated everyone he’s ever known and loved, and the existence of this supernatural house is largely an afterthought. RC is a despicable man, only ever portrayed with an ounce of empathy during the school yard romance montage at the beginning of the issue.
Artist Santipérez spends the majority of the issue in montage mode, with new settings and scenes in almost every panel. That’s distilled down to its essence here, with each of these landmark moments in RC and Angie’s lives being expressed in solely emotional terms. Joy, infatuation, desperation, fear, excitement, hope — the page is a life full of emotional turmoil.
Any other slice from their shared life is ugly ugly ugly, less an emotional roller coaster and more of an emotional vertical drop ride. Adams and Santipérez are taking shots at everyone they’ve determined haven’t earned the success they have in life and there’s no equivocating on that: RC and Angie are pieces of shit with no redeeming qualities. It makes for good anger fuel but very little else.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?